Go with the flow: Every finish in the kitchen starts with your sink fixtures

MIrabelle available at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery MIrabelle available at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

The verdict is in from the nation’s biggest kitchen and bathroom expo—kitchen sinks are trending modern. And there’s probably nothing Charlottesville can do about it.

According to local designer Amy Hart of Albemarle Cabinet Co., a visit to The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in early January and her clients’ recent purchases indicate most folks are looking for high-quality, simple designs these days.

“Right now we are selling more high-end faucets because people are being wise with their money—they want to invest in a well-built, good- looking faucet,” she says. “As for the look, it is very modern now.”

Charlottesville, though, may be slower to progress. With its legacy residences and bucolic sensibility, classic finishes are still in around here, according to Karen Turner of Karen Turner Kitchen Design.

“With older homes and remodeling, people want their kitchen to look like it has always been there and have a certain patina,” she says. So where does that leave you? Remember the following tricks and trends, and you should be golden, or at least bronze.

Think from the sink

Hart says faucet designers like Kohler and Delta tend to drive trends throughout the kitchen. “They’re paying for all these new finishes,” she says. “They spend so much time with marketing and focus groups and developing these finishes, and that is what everyone else is waiting on.” In other words, keep an eye on the sink, and you’ll know what’s trending in the kitchen.

The cutting edge

So what exactly are those new finishes? Hart points to aged pewter, titanium and rose gold, a Kohler-specific finish that people have been showing a lot of interest in throughout the kitchen, including on hardware and in lighting.

In a broader sense, homeowners looking to go modern are typically reaching for matte, not shiny finishes, Hart says.

Classic redefined

If you’re more of a traditionalist, you have options, too. Sure, you could go with the standards—polished nickel, which has a warm feel, or chrome, which is cooler. Or you could go with a rediscovered classic.

“Many of the older homes have unlacquered brass hinges and other cabinet hardware, and they are trying to make the faucets look like a part of that,” Turner says.

Unlacquered brass or polished nickel go nicely with more traditional apron-front sinks, which have also made a huge comeback, she adds.

Hart concedes that parts of Charlottesville are stuck in the past. “It’s very polarized in our market—it’s either very traditional or very modern,” she says. “I don’t sell a lot of in-between.”

The in-between

Hey, maybe you’re a C’ville eccentric. Local trends be damned, you’re neither traditional nor modern. Hart says the best sellers in the middle of the road, as well as for spec homes, are chrome and matte nickel. Satin nickel, a brushed product, is also popular, but the oil-rubbed bronze that was on fire several years ago is fading fast. What’s coming next? Matte black, iron and matte pewter are starting to build momentum, according to Hart, because they go well with lots of kitchen styles. “People are looking for that contrast,” she says.

Form and function

What about all that fancy new faucet technology? Should you consider a touch faucet or a no-touch faucet? What about a faucet you can operate with your mind? Slow down, space cowboy.

While touch and no-touch faucets are on the rise, both Hart and Turner are somewhat skeptical. Turner says her clients still prefer single-lever faucets you can operate with your wrist. Hart was even less kind to the touchy-feely faucets. “Personally I feel like it’s one more thing to break,” she says.

Hart says her customers are particularly savvy about faucet construction and are willing to pay more for quality. A pull-down sprayer—once ostracized for its clunky docking mechanisms—is almost a given. You’ll only see side sprayers in the lowest end kitchens. “They’re just really practical,” Turner says. “There’s less clutter on the countertop, and the pull-out sprayer eliminates the hose.”

Turner says stovetop pot fillers are still in, and some of her clients are doing cool new things with built-in filtered water systems and hot water supply lines. And the best part of the hot new stuff is you can still get it in your preferred finishes.

“They have brought those along, with different styles—modern, sleek or more traditional,” Turner says. “So that doesn’t limit you if you want all those things.”—S.G.

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